Do you regularly pay with a credit card at the checkout counter? What about use grocery store loyalty cards? Turns out, all that data is being aggregated and used to track you!
You read right. Statistics gathering companies like Acxiom Corp and LexisNexis, which are called Data Brokers, buy up your personal information from credit card companies and retailers and use it to create a profile on you. Then that data is sold to healthcare providers.
On the surface, this might sound amazing! You doctor can use smart predictive methods to stop you from having a heart attack or developing diabetes before it ever happens.
But wait… doesn’t that also mean that the data could be used against you? Suddenly….
- Your insurance company can charge you more for being a smoker, drinking more than they are comfortable with, or eating too many Little Debbie cakes.
- The EPA can decide you consume too much fuel and should be put into a higher tax bracket designated for those who emit too much carbon pollution.
- When switching insurance companies, you could be charged higher premiums for visiting the doctor too often in the past.
- A potential employer could buy this data and use your pharmacy loyalty card data to determine that you take too many meds and are prone to taking sick time more than they are comfortable.
Hell, I could speculate all day on the way this data could be used against you. I think the ways it could be used against you easily outnumber the ways it is useful by at least 10 to 1.
It makes one seriously consider going to all cash as much as possible. I’ve always been a tin-foil hat wearing kind of guy in this regard anyway, simply from working in IT and knowing the level of detail that can be surmised about a person based on their web surging and computer usage habits.
For example, I could tell that Jane in HR has gall bladder stones, Mike in accounting feels a burning sensation when he urinates and Michelle in finance just recently got engaged just by the crap they search for in Google. Adding in loyalty card and credit card transaction information simply fills in the pieces of the puzzle. Throw in a little cell phone GPS and metadata and suddenly they know more about us than we do ourselves.
We’re suddenly all under a microscope. Maybe it’s time to go off grid a bit. Switch to cash when possible, leave the cell phone at home or in the car when walking about, start using our browsers in private browsing mode and using browser plugins like Disconnect.
Regain a little bit of ourselves and anonymity.
Check out the Bloomberg article on the subject proclaiming HOW GREAT THIS ALL IS!!!!